By Jeff Probst, Chris Tebbetts
Published on February 7, 2013
Published by Puffin
Source: Publisher for Review
A family vacation becomes a test of survival!

It was supposed to be a vacation—and a chance to get to know each other better. But when a massive storm sets in without warning, four kids are shipwrecked alone on a rocky jungle island in the middle of the South Pacific. No adults. No instructions. Nobody to rely on but themselves. Can they make it home alive?

A week ago, the biggest challenge Vanessa, Buzz, Carter, and Jane had was learning to live as a new blended family. Now the four siblings must find a way to work together if they're going to make it off the island. But first they've got to learn to survive one another.

Jeff Probst (yes, that Jeff Probst) has written a middle grade survival novel with the help of Chris Tebbetts. I love Survivor and had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed!

Stranded follows four kids of a newly blended family, Vanessa and Buzz Diaz and Carter and Jane Benson, as they set sail with their uncle Dex and his first mate, Joe, aboard the Lucky Sail toward Hawaii to meet up with their mother and father who are on their honeymoon. It’s a chance to vacation and get to know each other better. What the kids didn’t bargain for was a massive storm to separate them from their guardians and shipwreck them alone on a deserted island.

This novel really grabbed my attention from the beginning and it was a page-turner from start to finish. Now, I am quite a bit older than the target audience (9-12), but I thoroughly enjoyed the story and writing style nonetheless. The fact that it’s third person omniscient really helped drive the story. You get little tidbits on what all the characters are feeling and thinking as they figure out how to deal with each other and work together in order to survive.

All of the characters have distinct personalities which lead directly into how well they do (or don’t) get along. I felt they were appropriate for kids because readers could relate to them easily. And, despite being a “survival” novel, it’s not a dangerous, on the edge of your seat type of story. The kids do have some precarious situations, but (again) age-appropriate. (Think Lost for kids.) And, perhaps, the most wonderful thing was that it felt very real and authentic - I could imagine this really happening. It wasn’t forced, but rather kind of unfolded as you read.

This was a very quick read, too. By the time I reached the end, I was surprised I was finished (and truthfully, really bummed). It ends on a cliffhanger, but fear not! Trial By Fire: Stranded Book Two is slated for June 2013 release!

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